Obama praises Clinton in interview
In what was interpreted as an endorsement of Hillary Clinton’s future political ambitions, president Barack Obama took the unusual step of appearing in a joint interview with his departing secretary of state on flagship CBS news programme 60 Minutes.
In their first side-by-side interview, the two were chummy, casual and exchanged laughs and compliments in stark contrast to the bitter battle for the Democratic presidential nomination in the 2008 election.
The show of public solidarity between the rivals-turned-allies was the first televised interview in which the President appeared with someone other than his wife, Michelle.
The idea was Mr Obama’s, the show’s presenter Steve Kroft said in the interview which was taped last week but televised yesterday evening.
“I just wanted to have a chance to publicly say thank you because I think Hillary will go down as one of the finest secretary of states we have had,” said the president.
“It has been a great collaboration over the last four years. I am going to miss her – wish she was sticking around but she has logged in so many miles I can’t begrudge her wanting to take it easy for a little bit.”
Ms Clinton acknowledged that the interview would have been seen as “improbable” a few years ago because of the “very hard” primary campaign they fought in 2008.
She ultimately accepted the President’s invitation to become secretary of state “because we both love our country,” she said. Had she won the presidential election in 2008 she would have “desperately wanted” Mr Obama in her cabinet, she said.
The president said he considered Ms Clinton a “strong friend” while she described their relationship as “very warm, close”.
The two laughed off reading anything into the interview for the 2016 presidential election in which Ms Clinton is expected to seek the Democratic nomination, though this did not stop the US media and television news networks pondering whether this was an endorsement.
Mr Obama’s running mate vice president Joe Biden also seems to be a likely candidate for the party’s nomination to run for the White House in 2016.
“You guys in the press are incorrigible,” said the president. “I was literally inaugurated four days ago, and you’re talking about elections four years from now.”
Ms Clinton joked that it might even be illegal for her to answer given that she was still secretary of state.
On her recent ill-health, she said that she was still recovering from the concussion suffered last month after she fell and hit her head.
“I have some lingering effects from the concussion that are decreasing and will disappear,” she said.